(Picks up where A Little Side Quest left off)
Anasril drifted like a dandelion
seed in the wind; her crinoline petti-
coats, gray-blue, belled as bullet’s scion,
Chero, paced her and dawn tossed confetti
clouds that the rising sun coruscated.
Ahead two mountains kissed and water fell
in a pale rivulets that formed delicate
veils whose hems ruffled the riffle where dwelled,
somewhere nearby, an enclave of Groundlings.
The ‘where’ part vexed Anasril’s tired mind
as she bungled the landing and kissing
cold stone, her flight ended her in a bind.
Chero’s landing, while not a graceless spill,
left him sweaty and staring at the rill.
~ ~ ~
He squat beside her as she lay panting,
listening to the falling water sing
a lullabye to the setting moon, King
of fallen pantheons, ’till the cold sting
of the chill morning forced her to move on.
Chero’s more practical garb had survived
their hurried flight better than hers; she yawned.
“They’re in there,” Chero said, “I hear their hive.”
He pointed but the water-veil refused
to part as she shuddered at thought of wet
wings and the ice-cold drenching to ensue.
She started when Chero lifted her, set
course, black and silver wings blurring, flying
them to falls that seemed to beat a warning.
~ ~ ~
Chero looped around the falls and behind,
darting into the mouth of a cave lit
by wing glow alone leaving darkness twined
with apprehension; dark blinded and bit
into her courage as they alighted.
A skeleton’s eyeless sockets mocked where
it reclined by the slick entrance, its sight
unnerved Anasril who’d hoped for aid there.
Chero hopped onto its head; his boots clicked
on the bleached skull as he examined marks
scratched on the bone; he touched a tripwire, flicked
it too, extinguishing her hopes with snark.
The tripwire it didn’t trigger at his touch.
“To know how this was done, I would give much.”
~ ~ ~
“It’s not–” she broke off, swallowed, “of the dark?”
Chero shook his head. “No it’s protective.
It’s meant to drive off those here on a lark.”
He gave her a crooked smile; effective
that, it shorted out her fear and she smiled.
“How do you know that weaving of bone and wire
is safe–it’s very odd,” she shuddered, riled
at this thing, and possibly also tired.
Chero didn’t answer as a shadow slid
over his face; his whole clan had flown miles
uncounted, migrating far in a bid
for safety here in Shayari’s green miles
where enchanted forests covered all save
the hundred mountains, whose views people crave.
~ ~ ~
“We should go. They don’t know we’re here,” he said
jumping down to the ground to save his wings.
She floated beside and landed ahead;
this time with some grace thanks to rested wings.
They walked down the tunnels’ stone throat, tiny
in comparison, in step as it grew
steep; her thoughts for the wounded man; if he
could just hold on; his life was a gift through
which life keeps its promise of fair play and
change, that bringer of tears, must bow, present
the choice to flee as the enchanted lands
of the west fall to mortals who resent
magic in all its forms and who’d repeal
it here if Guardians didn’t keep it sealed.
~ ~ ~
The story continues in A Subterranean Quest.
~ ~ ~